Thursday, 8 December 2011

Close call

My mother and I were sitting during a quiet evening.

"How's your blog?" she inquired in Chinese.

"It's going," I replied.

"Oh, I have a story for you," she said excitedly, sitting up straight.  "You know how it was forbidden to steal food from the Communists, right?"

I nodded.

"Well, one day, when your dad was working in the fields, he stole a large bag of vegetables!" she said.  "He hid it while on the job, but when his shift was over, he brought it home.  It was so delicious, especially since we barely had any to eat."

My eyes widened in terror.  "Did they catch him?" I asked fearfully.

"Wait, listen!" my mom screeched.  "Eventually the Communists realized someone stole their food.  They were very angry.  Your dad was so scared.  He couldn't eat or sleep.  He stayed up all night, waiting for them to knock on the door to kill him."

Oh my God! I thought.

"They did confront him and find out it was him.  Oh yes, he was terrified.  But the weird thing is they let him get away with it.  They left him alone."

Breathing a sigh of relief, I asked, "Why didn't they punish him like they did to the others?"  My mom didn't have an answer for me.  I was just glad they spared his life.

"Your uncle later on did the same thing," my mom said, shaking her head.  "Again, they spared his life even though they found out he stole food from them."

I don't know whether the men in my family are just brave or foolish.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Smoke breaks

Sorry for the lack of interviews lately.  My dad has been going through a tough time.  He has been coughing nonstop for the past few weeks.  After several visits to the doctor, his health has improved a great deal and he has been coughing a lot less, but he hasn't made a full recovery yet.

My dad is a smoker, but due to this cough, I think he has stopped in the meantime.  It's likely he'll return to old habits once the cough has passed, but I think that's a slippery slope.

On vacation in France last year, my cousin Hing and I talked about the Khmer Rouge regime a bit.

He told me the reason my dad smoked was because of the regime.

My dad, as well as many other workers, were nearly worked to death during the regime.  The only way they were able to rest was to take a smoke break.

My dad didn't smoke at the time, but the more breaks he took, the more he smoked.  He's been smoking for over 30 years.

I look at my dad and my heart aches.  He's had a hard life and I just want to make things easier for him, but instead I feel helpless.